Only three flagship-class smartphones made it to Counterpoint Research’s list of top 10 smartphone models sold in 2019. Of these, two are iPhones, while the last is the Huawei P30. The other seven are mid-tier smartphones.
The Apple iPhone XR was the top selling smartphone of 2019, followed by two Samsung A series models, the Oppo A9 and the iPhone 11, which make the top 5. The Huawei P30 comes in at the 10th spot on the list and there are other mid-tier smartphones in the list. In fact, while the iPhone XR may have originally been priced in the premium range, Counterpoint noted that adjusting prices in "China and many other markets" helped Apple maintain strong demand for the device. The company also dropped prices for the iPhone XR in India earlier this year.
The influx of mid-tier smartphones in the top 10 list is in part because of “improving capabilities of devices in the mid-tier over the last year," the research firm noted. The firm also noted that the 2018 version of this list had five flagship models. While the iPhone XR isn't considered a mid-tier phone because of the Apple brand, its specs and features would actually make it comparable to most mid-tier phones today.
The fact that mid-tier smartphones are selling more also reduced the overall “wholesale revenue" of the top 10 models by 30% year-on-year, according to Counterpoint. However, the company said that the volume contribution of the top 10 models to the total global smartphone sales increased by 9% year-on-year, making for 17% of the total sales.
The mid-tier segment has been growing in India for a while, led by companies like OnePlus. The fact that India also accounts for a huge part of the global smartphone market could also be a reason for why Counterpoint’s top 10 list shaped up the way it did.
In a second quarter report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), the research firm noted that the average selling price for smartphones in India was between $159 and $200. In terms of smartphone prices in the US market, this would qualify as the price for budget or low-end devices. Phones like the iPhone 11 Pro, Samsung’s Galaxy series are sold in the $1000 and above range there. The iPhone XR was launched in the $700-$900 range there, originally.
IDC though, noted at the time that the $200 to $300 segment was the fastest growing segment, while the $400-$600 segment was the second fastest. The $400 to $600 segment is where mid-tier phones like Samsung’s A series, OnePlus’ OnePlus 7 series and others lie. In India, we usually combine these in the premium segment.
While OnePlus leads the premium space in India, the company is primarily known for making phones that provide flagship features but at a considerably lower price than what Apple, Samsung or Google charge.
Market leader here, Xiaomi, also took note of this segment in 2019. The company launched a phone called the Redmi K20 Pro, which used Qualcomm’s flagship processor, the Snapdragon 855, and had three cameras on the back. This is the same processor that runs on phones like the Google Pixel 3 and OnePlus 7.